5 Unusual-Yet-Amazing Brunch Bites You Must Try in SF

By Virginia Miller  |  May 16, 2014
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Atmosphere matters. Friendly, attentive service is always important. Good brunch cocktails or sparkling wine seals the deal. But there's nothing like a killer, outside-the-box brunch dish to make you come back again and again. Here are 5 we love that might not be the most obvious breakfast dishes (you won't find a scramble among them), but we believe you'll love them as much as we do.

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    The Place: Though service can sometimes be slow when dining in at Soul Groove, its humble space is laid back and friendly, a soul food oasis from Larkin Street outside. Order at the counter and eat-in or take to go.

    Must-Try Dish: Brunch specials have been known to include dreamy tequila-glazed pork chile verde, poached eggs, and Louisiana-style red beans and rice. The signature Chicken Fried Soul Sandwich is the centerpiece: maple-cinnamon-redolent waffles couch bacon-wrapped, buttermilk-fried chicken dripping with jalapeno coleslaw and maple BBQ sauce.

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    The Place: At Verbena, a Russian Hill newcomer, vegetables are a delicious art form - but there are lovely meat and seafood dishes, too. A giant skylight lets the sun stream in during brunch service, with a couple choice sidewalk tables.

    Must-Try Dish: It's all about the killer carrot pancakes, savory with dehydrated carrots, sweet with Blenheim apricot maple, floral with nasturtium butter. They are appropriately fluffy yet crisp around the edges.

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    The Place: Kitchen Story in the Castro, Blackwood in the Marina, Sweet Maple in Lower Pac Heights  - each stylish but comfortable, all-day restaurants serving a range of dishes. But these three restaurants have one key thing in common, besides co-owner Steven Choi. 

    Must-Try Dish: Millionaire's Bacon is dense, shimmery, caramelized, slightly sweet and smoky. These juicy strips renew bacon love, reminiscent of Southern ham in gourmet, fresh jerky-like form. You'll find it as a side with numerous breakfast dishes at all three of these restaurants, from eggs benedict to an asparagus omelet. You can also add it on as a side or just order it by itself.

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    The Place: The Castro's underrated charmer of a Spanish restaurant, Canela, is a welcoming haven for Spanish wine, sherry, olive oil flights, tapas and platters of jamon Iberico and manchego cheese. It's also a sunny respite for brunch.

    Must-Try Dish: Comfort (and flavor) comes in the form of paper thin Spanish flatbread called coca, each laden with farmer’s sheep cheese and sofrito (a sauteed mix of onions, garlic, sweet peppers). You can’t go wrong with any of the coca, but we love the meaty-sweet combo of Spanish serrano ham and peaches in a sherry vinegar reduction atop crispy flatbread.

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    Why We Love the Place: Sitting out on the back deck at the first US location of famed Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio's restaurants (open over 5 years), La Mar Cebichería Peruana, watching boats cruise by on the Bay, feels like vacation... especially while sipping Maracuya Sours blending pisco, Cointreau, passion fruit and lime juices, with frothy egg whites.

    Must-Try Dish: Our favorite dishes are the tiradito (raw, sashimi-style Japanese-Peruvian dishes - a style called Nikkei - in vivid citrus and fruit sauces) and causas (artful, whipped potato mounds topped with seafood and other bites). One of the hearty, brunch-only standouts, filling enough for two, is classic Peruvian chicharrón. Hunks of fatty, crispy pork belly are cooked sous vide seventeen hours, drizzled in aji amarillo pepper sauce, piled next to grilled sweet potatoes, with ACME bread buns to make sandwiches.